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Hifiman Sundara (HE400i upgraded, around $500)

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by mtoc, Sep 16, 2017.
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  1. Paddy
    Just received my Sundaras today. I'll not say too much on how I feel about them yet as they have barely been used an hour however I'm really liking them so far apart from one area. BASS. Does the bass expand and become more punchier with burn in as I'm finding they are much weaker than my 4xx when it comes to bass presence. At the minute the bass response i'd say is between the HE 400s and HE400i and the HE400s had very pathetic bass. Also noticing bass is slower than 4XX
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  2. Paddy
    I'm already starting to notice the bass opening up and I'm appreciating more how different it is so I'll take some more time before I give my comparison to the HE400i/HE4XX
    Anaz and Light - Man like this.
  3. Light - Man
    Just to add to the continued differences of opinions and confusion, including some of us who contradict ourselves (including myself). :ksc75smile:

    I reckon that most of Blondie's big hits don't sound that great on the Sundara, while on certain types of music it can sound very good.

    When I compare this track on my Fidelio X2 v Sundara, the X2 is a clear winner (even this video version shows it).

    Anaz likes this.
  4. Anaz
    Congratulations, hopefully they’ll improve for you with burn in. ...I found the bass improved somewhere after 20 - 50 hours and I’m interested in hearing your comparison to the 400i or 4XX as I thought the bass volume was slightly less than the 560 (but bass extension was similar). Also, I found treble to increase slightly with burn in.
  5. TheGame21x
    Well I haven't spent a lot of time going back and forth with them, comparing them directly head to head but I can say that the Sundara is a side-grade from the HE-560 with a considerably different tonal character. Whereas the 560 is bright and energetic (some would say a bit too much so), the Sundara is smoother and more laid-back with a toned down top end which imparts a darker tone than I'm used to with HiFiMan headphones (HE-400, 400i, 560), which is not to say it sacrifices treble detail, its all there, it's just more subdued. I'll have to spend some time this weekend going back and forth between the two headphones to decide which one I like more but the Sundara is putting up a better fight than I expected.
    Anaz likes this.
  6. SilverEars
    The treble energy of Sundara is more emphasized in the upper mids rather than the other way with the HE560 with the lower treble where there is a 7k band that sound a bit lifted, in which I think is what we attribute to brightness and certain types of sibilance. The treble of Sundara sounds sharper probably due to this, but the HE560 retains a bright character. Sundara seems punchier due to the sharp characteristic.

    HE560 in general sounds more refined, but also brighter. Both have some recessed mids depending on the recording and perhaps Sundara is more noticible or there is more of a cut.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  7. ra990
    Been listening to the Sundara today after another 12 hours of pink noise for break-in. I'm still having some issues that is making me turn down the volume to reduce the harshness in the treble. I previously described this as congestion in the upper mids, but I think it's the treble I'm having issues with, it can be sibilant at times (especially with ESS Sabre based DACs). I had hoped that these could be good alternatives to the Edition Xv2 at less than half the price, but I have to admit that I miss those headphones. It was worth a try, but the Edition Xv2's warm sound signature, more prominent bass, and wider soundstage is worth the price premium for me. They're two very different headphones.
  8. SilverEars
    I should clarify when I say upper mids. That area is actually part of the treble area right after the mids. When I say mids, it's the actual mids. I say upper mids to distinguish from lower treble. Lower treble would be 6-10k, and upper mids or technically treble(but, lower than lower treble) is about 3-5k. There's that gray area of where is the boarder of mids to treble. Tyll I believe refers to just above mids as presence region. I don't know what to call that region. Maybe I should call it the presence region as well, but I've been calling it upper mids due to people seem to refer to that region as upper mids.

    Mids look narrow span on the typical log scale with treble taking majority of the spectrum.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  9. conquerator2
    The presence region has been Hifiman's Achilles heel to my ears. The dip in the 1 - 2k range, followed by a 4 - 5k spike is a recipe for disaster to those of us with treble sensitive ears...
    omniweltall likes this.
  10. zmhaha
    Just got my Sundara a hour ago, bought directly from Hifiman. Guess what? The left cup has no sound whatsoever. Tried different cables, different sources. Why am I not surprised.
    omniweltall likes this.
  11. Anaz
    ...aaah punk rock :L3000:

    I don't have an X2 to compare, but I'll take your word for it - I was just listening Sia's 1000 Forms of Fear and thinking it didn't sound exciting so I switched to a DT-770 (and immediately cranked up the volume - I don't care if the sibilance kills me!!!!). I think the Sundara is too neutral for songs with a thumping beat. (And yes, Atomic sounds better on the DT-770 :thumbsup:).
  12. Anaz
    Tough luck mate. Their customer service is usually responsive. I hope everything works out.
  13. SilverEars
    It seems some people are more sensitive over others for that region. Another member I know is sensitive to 4-5k rise more so than me, and he's ok with 6-10k peak. Different from me. Me loves the presence region(if the mids are not relatively dipped sounding), and very dislikes the lower treble peaks.
    seanwee, DavidA and Dobrescu George like this.
  14. Paddy
    Ok so with my comparison i won't be as technical as many people are used to so i'll try and explain how these sound to me as best i can. In comparison to the HE400i/HE4XX they are quite different, more so than i expected. The HE4XX/400i has a thicker punch in the lows, not so much deeper but overall the bass has more volume than the Sundara's. Testing out some house and deep house i feel the punchy bass on the HE4XX/HE400i is much more present however in other areas the sub-bass muffles out other sounds the Sundara's reveal, the punchy bass in the Sundara's punch fast and is sharp and quick and extends deeper but there isn't that low rumble that you get with every deep punch the HE4XX gives which slightly muddies out other sounds but also gives weight to the punch whereas the Sundara's in deep house tracks will punch deep and fast. Imagine with each punch, you get a ripple and that ripple is that low rumble echo you hear, the HE4XX feel that after each punch the ripple stretches wider meaning that each low rumble lasts for longer and is stronger while the Sundara's with each punch, it hits hard and the ripple is smaller which allows other instruments to shine through the low bass. The Sundara's i feel have slightly better accuracy in bass in general and it sounds clearer. Sound-stage on Sundara is much more open, the HE4XX/400i feel much more up in your face while the Sundara's are a bit more laid back but because of such an open sound-stage they feel just as present, the only way to describe the difference is like the HE400i/HE4XX being a speaker right in front of you while the Sundara's are a speaker thats further back meaning the sound doesn't feel as congested in such a small space with better instrument separation and sounds more airy, because of this each instrument is equally articulated while with the HE4XX i felt some instruments were as i said a little bit more congested. Overall the Sundara's are definitely a step up in terms of how smooth they are, because they are more laid back they won't sound too harsh in certain areas compared to the HE400i/4XX though they are still a bit on the brightside of being neutral headphone which gives them such an airy sparkle. Are these worth the price difference between the HE400i/4XX? In my opinion yes, they sound much more smooth, rich and airy, everything is so well articulated while still remaining a fun headphone. They just sound much clearer because how open everything feels. Thats not taking away how good the 400i/4XX are as they are amazing headphones and the difference between these two headphones is more on some songs than others, i just prefer the Sundara's and to be honest they are the best headphones i have ever heard based on the limited number i have owned. These are also just as easy to drive with a portable amp as the HE400i/4XX, i only have to turn the volume up a TINY bit more, so it's easily a portable headphone. I will not be spend more than $500 US dollars on a pair of headphones and i feel these are the best by far i'll get for the price. The fact that so many people are comparing them to $1000 plus headphones is a testament to what league they are placed in. The headphones i have owned have been the HE400S, the HD650, HE400i and the HE4XX and i have tried many more such as Grados and Oppo. These still very much retain the Hifiman sound signature however they are certainly a step up in sound in terms of the detail thats presented and how rich it sounds. If i had to put my headphones in order of what i prefer it would be the

    1. HE Sundara

    The HE400S beats the HD650 for me in all areas apart from bass, the HE400S i also found to be very bright at times and harsher than the 400i.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
    seanwee, TiborM, Light - Man and 2 others like this.
  15. DavidA
    @Paddy, nice review. I have a few questions: 1) are your HE400i the newer ones with 2.5mm jacks? 2) Where all comparisons made with the same DAC/amp? 3) Were HE400i, HE400S and HE4XX all using the stock pads?
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